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Mid-Atlantic Gardening: Sustainable Garden Tips

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Give your garden a green footprint. Lowe's Mid-Atlantic regional gardening expert Julie Martens shares five ways to tend a sustainable garden.

Native plants include toadshade (Trillium sessile).

Growing a sustainable garden isn't a huge challenge. You're probably already doing it. A sustainable garden simply embraces earth-friendly practices that use fewer natural resources. Give your landscape a green footprint by trying these five eco-friendly tips.

Tip 1: Use Native Plants
I include native plants like the toadshade shown above in my gardens for several reasons. Compared to non-natives, native plants are:

  • Low-maintenance, requiring less water, fertilizer, and/or pest control
  • Able to attract native pollinators, beneficial insects, and birds
  • Frequently wildlife-resistant
  • Adapted to local growing conditions

In my landscape, I have planted several wildflowers native to the Mid-Atlantic region: toadshade, shooting star, Joe-Pye weed, and swamp milkweed.

garter snake

Tip 2: Welcome Wildlife
Eco-friendly garden methods allow wildlife to thrive. Birds and toads find ample food among my plantings and help control problem insects before they cause much damage.

Two other critters help battle pests. I regularly spy garter snakes and black snakes (on vole patrol, I hope). I don't mind these nonpoisonous snakes, although sometimes they surprise me!

beetles in water

Tip 3: Control Pests Naturally
When possible, I rely on nonchemical pest-control methods: I knock Japanese beetles into soapy water, spray bacteria (Bt, Bacillus thuringiensis) for "bad" caterpillars, and battle slugs with eco-friendly bait.

compost bins

Tip 4: Learn to Compost
It costs nothing to compost, so this sustainable garden practice yields a huge return on investment. When added to beds, finished compost acts as a slow-release fertilizer and builds healthy soil. I have three bins, which I fill each fall. Meanwhile, the composter to the left of the bins holds finished compost. This year I'm adding a fourth bin to stash gleanings from spring cleanup.

battery powered mower

Tip 5: Mow Without Gas
A battery-powered mower gives any yard a green footprint.

I use this mower to mulch grass clippings and chop autumn leaves for the compost pile. Choose a model with a removable battery if you store your mower in an unheated shed in the coldest areas of the region or one without electrical outlets.

Is your landscape eco-friendly? What sustainable garden practices do you use?